With the weather steadily growing warmer, families are eager to get outside and onto the water to enjoy these beautiful spring and summer days. It’s easy to get excited about boating, especially when you have children and a family to enjoy it with. But while boating with your family can be amazingly fun and educational, you should constantly remember that boating with younger children and family members can be dangerous if you do not take the proper precautions before leaving the dock.
Life vests & “no-no’s”: First and foremost, each person and child should be equipped with a life vest. Make sure younger children have life vests with a ‘heads up’ collar that ensure their faces will automatically be turned upward and away from the water, should they go overboard. Whistles are a good option to have on a child’s life vest as well. It is wise to tell any and all passengers to wear slip resistant shoes if they have them. Boat decks can at times become very slippery and may unfortunately cause unwanted falls. In addition to wearing slip resistant shoes, running, jumping, and hanging over the side of the boat are all major “no-no’s” in order to prevent a fall or to even prevent capsizing smaller boats.
It is best to let your family know upfront that these precautionary rules are not flexible and there are no exceptions, even if life vests are itchy or the children become bored. Ask your Candlewood East Marina sales person to inspect your life vest and check for proper size.
In Case of Emergency: You should always be sure that the adult and teenage passengers on board know what actions to take should an emergency with the boat arise. It will equip them with much needed knowledge should something happen to you or the boat. These passengers will also serve as helpers on board in case you need them in a time of panic.
Once these safety precautions have been taken, be sure to include your family and teach them about the responsibilities that come along with boating. Teach them the boating ‘language’ so that they can feel included in your adventure and understand when you say ‘starboard’ or ‘bow’. This is especially exciting for children as they are using their ever growing imaginations daily.
Pack a cooler & tote: Taking a picnic lunch or a cooler packed full of drinks and snacks will allow you to spend more time out on the water with your family. Let your children pick a few of their own snacks while preparing for your trip – it will make them feel more involved and they’ll become more excited about the big day. Along with packing a cooler, make sure you pack a tote with extra clothes, underwear, towels, swim suits, a thick blanket for the little ones to lie on, hats, and sun block. The sun’s reflection off of the water will cause sunburn much quicker than being on dry land. There’s nothing worse than coming back from a fun day of boating with horribly painful sunburn!
Games & Swimming: It’s hard for children to sit still for an entire day of boating – bringing along games keep children (and some adults!) busy. If you have babies or toddlers in your family, make sure you provide them with age appropriate games or toys. They will most likely be the first ones to become easily bored or tired.
Being in a boat without the thought of jumping into the magnificent, cool, water is hard to avoid as well. After all, you’re surrounded by it on all sides. Make a schedule and plan to drop anchor some place nice for your family so that they’ll have time to go exploring, or even just swimming and splashing around for an hour. This will also give you more one-on-one relaxation time with your family and a break from being ‘captain’!
Overall, the object is to have a fun and safe boating experience. Taking precautionary steps before getting on the boat will make for a more relaxing day, not only for your family, but for you as well. Knowing that you’ve given your family the best knowledge you can give about your boat, safety, and having fun while being safe, makes for an exciting new adventure and hopefully, a new family tradition.
Tell us in the comments below, what memories do you have of boating with the family?